Sunday, 31 August 2008

Night games...........

Small dog is a great fan of bedtime.

This is partly because bedtime is sometimes accompanied by a cup of tea and a biscuit, but mostly because she gets to play some of her favourite games.

High on the list is one she calls "No Reading Mum"

The rules are few and simple.

Player 1 settles down comfortably with a bedtime book, propped up on the duvet.
Player 2 takes up position just behind the book, and initiates the first phase of the game with some subtle distraction play which involves raising the head so that the tips of two large furry ears appear over the top of the book.
Player 1 must ignore this and continue to read. If Player 1 giggles or otherwise acknowledges the presence of Player 2 the game is over.
Player 2 must then raise the stakes by standing up and putting their nose over the top of the book, effectively preventing pages from being turned. This should be accompanied by an intense stare.
If this does not distract Player 1, Player 2 must jump off the bed and return immediately with a squeaky toy, casually discarded sock, or similar item.
Player 2 must then attempt to drop the item over the top of the book, simultaneously cocking her head on one side for maximum cuteness.
Game over. Player 2 wins


Her most favourite game of all time, is "Ratinthebed". This takes the form of a play, with dialogue and actions.

Me: (whispering) Shhhh! Listen! What's that?
Small Dog: Freezes, ears quivering, tail erect.
Me: Make tiny, almost inaudible scratching sound under the duvet.
Small Dog: Feigns indifference but remains on red alert
Me: Make slightly louder scratching sound accompanied by small movements
Small Dog: Turns to face the source of the sound, which immediately stops. Stares intently at the spot.
Me: Move hand to a different area under the duvet and resume scratching.
Small Dog: Cock head from side to side to identify where the creature now is.
Me: Stay very still and quiet...............
Small Dog: Takes a huge leap in the air and lands on all fours on top of the creature, then begins digging like a maniac, turning round in circles.
This is repeated ad infinitum...........
The winner is whoever runs out of energy last. This is invariably Small Dog.

Other popular bedtime games include "Hide or Lick", "Bark, Bark Bark" and "Phantom Burglar", the rules of which I expect you can deduce for yourself.

I don't believe it!!!!!!

And so, 20 months on from the start of my blog, the toy shop, which was the rationale for the blog in the first place, is finally finished.

Well almost.

Just a few tiny tweaks here and there and it will be ready to unveil.

That however will not the be the end of the story. As there is still the basement to build.

But......... the main shop, with its three floors of display space and lit cabinets, is, to all intents and purposed, completed.

Hoo and indeed, rah!

Photos to follow.....................

Thursday, 28 August 2008

100 days................

The friendly countdown timer on my computer desktop chirpily informed me this morning that there are just 100 days till the Kensington Christmas Festival.

No matter that I am up to my neck in stuff to do.

No matter that I have so many new projects on the go I don't know which way is up

No matter that small dog is projectile emitting at both ends *eewwwwww*


I will stay calm and focussed.

Almost zen-like you might say.

Or not..........

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Small Dog's Mood In A Picture..............

Small dog is indisposed.

In fact you might say she's as sick as a dog.

Even the prospect of lightly cooked chicken, served with boiled new potato and served in her favourite dog bowl could not entice her to eat her dinner.

Not only that, she could not even muster the enthusiasm to sit gorgeously, waiting for a smidgen, while we had an after dinner ice cream.

I think we might be in for another exciting night of emergency forays into the garden............

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Loose ends..........

Today has been a day of loose ends.

Not just one or two...........a whole macrame-hammock sized ball of loose ends.

So many things need to be finished and ticked off my rapidly burgeoning 'to do' list that it will take all of this week and most of next to be completely done, by which time there will probably be a whole new load of loose ends to contend with.

Still, there is much to be said for patiently working through a tangle of tasks..........

Monday, 25 August 2008

It's camping.....but not as you know it.

You might be forgiven for thinking that my life is one endless round of weekend camping trips. This is not strictly true, as in between times I do work.

Yes really.

However, as this weekend past was the August Bank Holiday weekend, it was the chance for a last hurrah......although admittedly the weather wasn't much to cheer about.

Nevertheless, we had booked to go away with friends for a fun-filled few days, and that we did. For the initiated, the idea of camping usually provokes a shudder of distaste, fuelled by visions of leaky tents, creepy-crawlies, tinned baked beans and BBQ sausages, drizzly rain, lumpy camp beds etc.

This is about as far from the truth as is possible, as most campsites boast pitches overflowing with state-of-the-art caravans and motorhomes which would put 5 star hotel facilities to shame.
We have a modest little campervan, but even it has central heating, oven, hob, fridge, sink, small bathroom with toilet, washbasin and you see we don't exactly rough it.

On the first night we hosted a three-course dinner for 6 in our snug little van, but the piece de resistance was Saturday night which was billed as a Murder Mystery Dinner for 8, complete with decorated gazebo, themed dinner, wines, clues etc......... with all guests dressed in character.

So not exactly your run-of-the-mill, back-to-basics camping then.

Needless to say, small dog was in her element and fully entered into the spirit of the thing.......

Monday, 18 August 2008

Mad as an Essex duck..........

We were camping in Essex over the weekend, visiting my daughter and her partner's new house, which is a work in progress.

The 115 mile journey on Friday took 6 1/2 hours, courtesy of stationary traffic on the M25 and A12, as thousands of people headed towards Chelmsford for the V Music Festival. There was quite a party atmosphere on the hard shoulder as the festival goers, fed up with sitting in hot cars and camper vans, abandoned their vehicles, set up picnics, and danced like loons.......most entertaining. There were also dozens of car breakdowns, either running out of petrol or with water pouring out of burst car radiators due to overheating.

Practically every car on the road was heading to V so it was interesting to see what people had packed for the weekend. Cars were either filled with all girls or all lads, and we became quite adept at guessing which was which purely from what was in their respective boots as we crawled past.

Girl-packed cars had everything very neatly packed in the boot. Camping gear, baskets of delicious looking food and wine, coolboxes etc. Girls were almost always singing along to music, tapping out the rhythms, laughing and joking with each other and generally having a great time.

Boy-packed cars looked like everything had been just thrown in, then stirred around a bit with a stick. Camping gear seemed mostly limited to sleeping bags and black bin liners. Why carry a bulky tent when you can sleep in a plastic bag and free up more room in the car for food and drink? Comestibles consisted mainly of 96 packets of crisps and several crates of beer/lager/cider. Boys were almost always making inroads into their food supplies (ie crisps) and we didn't pass a car where at least some of the occupants (though thankfully NOT the drivers) had a can of beer or cider in their hands. Given the length of the traffic queues, I thought it entirely possible that some of the lads would arrive at the festival site with no food or drink left at all!

Having sat in the traffic for 3 hours we felt a bit miffed that we weren't festival-going too, as the atmosphere was very uplifting with not one raised voice or incident of road rage, despite the soaring temperatures and endless wait to travel just a few feet at a time. Even those pushing their petrol-less cars along the hard shoulder for miles were happy and smiling.......ah the resilience of youth.

Still I'm sure they all had a great time and will be wending their way homeward today after a fantastic weekend.

So it's back to work (again) for us today. More work on the toy shop which is coming along very nicely, if slowly, and tackling a pile of orders.

As predicted, having missed out on any number of naps over the weekend, small dog is working hard at catching up on her sleeps and had to be physically dragged out of bed this morning, most disgruntled.

More anon..............

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


It's a really miserable day weatherwise. Rain is hammering down, it's blowing a gale and the sky looks like a grey, lead weight. There is an unmistakable hint of autumn in the air, which feels a tad unfair seeing as it's only mid-August.

However, without the lure of sunshine outside, I have been beavering away in the workroom doing a morning's casting, while Perfectionist Partner has been weathering the roof of the toy shop. Small dog, unsurprisingly, is snuggled up in her basket, after only the briefest foray into the tempest earlier today.

So here's an update on how the toy shop is shaping up, externally anyways. Still a work in progress but it's coming on in leaps and bounds!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Thought for the day...............

There are many imponderables in this life..........some serious, some trivial.

The one which is greatly exercising me at present is this:

Are doll's houses EVER finished?

I have to say, I have never, ever, in almost 25 years of collecting and making miniatures, actually completely finished a doll's house *shamefaced look*. I've been close to it. But not completely.

This is probably because I have never bought a finished house. By which I mean a house which is already completed internally and externally, with all electrics ready fitted etc.

Every house I've owned has been made from a kit, partly for reasons of economy, but mostly because I always like to make changes, which are much easier to achieve in the building stages.

Putting the kit together is usually the easy bit. Once assembled the house is a blank canvas and this is where the problems start. Anyone who has ever made a house from a kit will know that there are an infinitesimal number of small bits and pieces which have to be considered.
For example, my toy shop is largely completed, but I still keep finding bits I've missed. Like the front edges of the floors. And the edges of the fronts. Small areas of skirting board have escaped my notice. Along with window sills etc. These are easily overlooked but detract from the overall impression.

Also, no matter how many of these little tasks I notice and complete, there always seem to be more awaiting my attention.

I am also aware that small dog has been viewing the empty shop with interest and may be thinking of exercising squatter's rights.

Monday, 11 August 2008


And so, after a week of catching up workwise, I have at last regained a tentative state of equilibrium..........temporarily at least.

Orders are chugging along nicely, as is work to complete them. Plans are in place to continue with new projects and ideas. This month's online dollclub project is finished and ready to post out.

All in all a fairly satisfactory state of affairs.

So in a brief hiatus, work is continuing apace on my toy shop, which has been relocated downstairs in order to complete the facade. Somehow the act of removing it from its tiny room upstairs has released the log jam of creativity and all those little niggly-naggly jobs I somehow have never got round to completing are now being ticked off my to do list with alacrity.

  • Electrics on the top floor have now been completed, and the glitches have been rectified.
  • Doorknobs have been fitted, doors permanently installed and architraves glued in position
  • Interior window frames have been stained and fitted, each mitred perfectly
  • Exterior side walls have been painted and are ready for the exposed finish.
  • Roof tiles and brickwork are being weathered and distressed
I have also now finalised the contents of each of the 6 display areas over 3 floors, and chosen the toys for the window displays, although I may decide to install further shelving in the bay windows so I can display more items.

In all this flurry of activity it is sooooooo tempting to make a start on the basement too, but I must firmly resist, and stick to my pledge to complete the main shop first.

Best laid plans and all that.................

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The wanderers return..........

Don't you just love it when you get home after a holiday and the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse? After a week of outdoor living under mostly sunny skies, today has an almost autumnal air to it. Cold, grey and damp.

So, perfect excuse for getting straight back to work, completely bypassing the displacement goblins *ahem*

Ok, I admit it. I have been dallying with the email displacement goblins, but only because they poured in excess of 700 emails into my inbox when I logged on yesterday. Thank goodness I remembered to switch off all my forum emails, otherwise I'd be into the thousands.

Today, small dog has selflessly dedicated herself to catching up with all her naps and has barely moved from the snuggly warmth of her basket. This is despite the fact that this morning I called an Extraordinary Meeting of the Board of Directors, on which small dog is a (sleeping) partner. The fact that the meeting included hot buttered toast with marmalade did entice her to put in a brief appearance, after which she offered her apologies and retired to her nest. So in her absence we pushed through a special resolution regarding the removal of gravy bones from the Director's remuneration package. That'll teach her to take her responsibilities more seriously.

Yes, so, the work thing.

Well you have to work up to these things gradually. I have been doing lists and generally getting into organisational mode, in preparation for a major assault on the workroom. I also have to reconnoitre the Toy Shop, with a view to further weathering and distressing, not to mention yet more fiddling with the electrics, which have become a bit temperamental.

I'm also trying to ignore the 'helpful' countdown timer on my laptop which informed me perkily this morning that there are 123 days remaining till the Kensington Christmas Festival. No worries there then.

Which brings me back to my original point that the dreary weather mitigates against my wandering out into the garden to do a bit of weeding or tidying up.
No, I shall 'get on' with work.

Straight after a cup of tea and a Kit-Kat and this message from our sponsor..................